Frequently Asked Questions

PhotoHistory classes train you to answer tough questions. Some tough questions, however, can’t be found in a textbook or in a lecture hall (although finding your lecture hall is an accomplishment in itself). For questions involving major requirements, registration, credits, and other information that you just need to know, you’ve come to the right place.

Where can I find information about courses offered by the History Department?

Courses currently offered by the history department can be found on the department’s timetable. For short descriptions of these classes, see the Undergraduate Catalog online.

How do we recommend picking courses? Talk to current history students and the peer advisors in room 3211 about their favorite classes and professors. 

What are the requirements for completing the history major?

You must complete 30 credits of history classes, 15 credits of which must be at the Intermediate (I), Advanced (A), or Intermediate/Advanced (D) level. Course level is marked on the online Timetable in the “geBLC” column.

You must also fulfill the:

  1. Breadth requirement, establishing a range of historical knowledge
  2. Concentration requirement, establishing depth in a particular area or theme in history
  3. 600 Seminar, a small capstone class that focuses on the research aspect of history

Please see the Undergraduate handbook for details about each of these requirements.

How do I declare a history major?

Congratulations, you’ve already done the hardest part—actually deciding on a major. The actual declaration process is quick and stress-free.

To declare a history major you must fill out a declaration form with the Undergraduate History Advisor or Peer Advisor (3211 Humanities).

*The only prerequisite for declaration is that you must have at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA.

I’m a transfer student—will my classes transfer?

Yes, most of your credits will transfer. You worked hard for those credits and we are going to help you keep them. If you are transferring to UW-Madison from another UW school, the easiest way to check out class equivalencies is through the Credit Transfer Wizard. If you are from another college or university see the UW-Madison Office of Admissions Transfer Guidelines, if you have further questions regarding transferring credits or course equivalencies, you should make an appointment with the Undergraduate History Advisor

How do I receive authorization for courses that need the “consent of the instructor” (600 seminars, senior thesis, and independent study)?

For all courses EXCEPT history 600 seminars, obtain a Course Authorization form from 3211 Humanities or download the Course Authorization Form (pdf).

Fill out the form completely and have it signed by the professor you’d like to work with. Then, bring the signed form to 3211 Humanities. You will receive the registration number by e-mail and you can use it during your normal registration time slot.

For history 600 seminars, contact the professor teaching the course you would like to attend. Once a professor has accepted you into their seminar, they will contact the History Advising Team who will then authorize you to register (on or after your scheduled registration time).

Courses that require special authorization:

  • Advanced Seminar in History (600)
  • Independent Study (199, 698, 699)
  • Honors Thesis (681, 682)
  • Honors Thesis Colloquium (680)
  • Senior Thesis (691, 692)
  • Senior Thesis Colloquium (690)

Who’s who in the History Department?

Professors’ profiles can be found on the faculty webpage. If you have any questions about their courses and research, they would love to see you in their office hours or communicate via email for quick questions. We hear they don’t bite unless provoked . . .

Can I register for a class once the deadline has passed?

Late registration requires additional permission by the course professor or lecturer. Please see the Undergraduate History Advisor for instructions on the process. Note: The Registrar’s Office publishes specific enrollment guidelines for late class adds.

What is an incomplete? How does it affect my record?

An incomplete generally means you are unable to finish the course work in a given semester because of unforeseen circumstances, illness, etc. You may be able to get your incomplete changed to an actual grade if you talk with your instructor and finish the work in a timely manner. For more information on completes and deadlines for completing work, see and visit a Undergraduate History Advisor about your particular situation.

How can I change the number of credits or a discussion section for a class that I’m enrolled in?

Do not drop the course to make changes! You can use the online registration to “swap” the course sections or change the number of credits within the first four weeks of the semester. If it is past the first four weeks, use the"course change request" in your student center portal. Watch the student demo on the Registrar's website for instructions to complete a change. You will be required to obtain signatures to complete the forms. Then they needs to be taken to Rm 70 Bascom for the L&S Dean's signature. Whew! If this sounds like a hassle, see a History Peer Advisor for questions or problems. We’ll understand if you have them.

A class I really want to take is full; how can I add it?

Cross your fingers and hope for other students to drop! Or, be proactive and let the professor and TA know you desperately want to be in their class. The History Department does not have waiting lists for courses that are full, but if you want to take a particular class, attend the lecture (even if you aren’t enrolled) and talk to the professor or TA during the first week. Each Professor has a policy regarding the enrollment caps used for a course; they’ll let you know what your chances are of adding the class.

Help! I lost something in my history class!

You can check for your missing Nalgene bottles, iPods, wool scarves (or--heaven forbid--cell phones) in either the history office (3211 Humanities) or the Humanities building lost and found (1530 Humanities). Please remember that the finders-keepers rule only applies with small change and snack food—if you find something worth a little more, please turn it in to either of these locations. 

How many credits can I earn if I took the Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate tests in History?

UW is generous with AP and IB Credit (they are hard tests, after all). Score of 3 or higher on AP History tests will receive credit, as will a score of 4 on the IB exam. Just make sure to have your scores sent to UW-Madison so the credits transfer. 


AP History

European History


3 credits, general electives


4 or 5

3 credits, History electives

United States History


3 credits, general electives


4 or 5

3 credits, History electives

World History


3 credits, general electives

  4 or 5 3 credits, History electives

IB History


6 credits, history electives (social studies, elementary)

See Office of Admissions and Recruitment for more information, or other AP/IB course equivalencies and CLEP credit.

Where are most history lectures and discussions held?

Most of your history classes, as well as the undergraduate advisor and department headquarters, are located in the George L. Mosse Humanities building. “Humanities” is located on the corner of Park and University, across from Chadbourne Residential College. Click here for a map

I can’t find my Lecture Hall! How do I get around the Humanities building?

Although the Humanities building is a noteworthy tribute to Brutalism, an architectural movement of the 1960’s, maneuvering its hallways and stairwells can prove difficult. We would suggest string or perhaps breadcrumbs, but the hungrier students would eat them. More practically, if you are a freshman, find your classroom before the first day of class. Helpful hint: room numbers beginning with 1 are at the courtyard level, and room numbers beginning with 2 are at the street level. They go up from there. The History Department Office (3211 Humanities—look for the glass revolving door at the top of the stairs) has a map of the building for your reference. 

Where can I find primary source material for my history research papers?

When you’re done scouring the stacks at Memorial or Helen C, try the Wisconsin Historical Society, next door to the Humanities building. They have a great library, plus an archive particularly useful for American history students who want to take a gander at documents. Visit